Portraits in Generosity highlights our Sustaining Donors, the people who’ve committed to a monthly donation to the South Bay Food Pantry
Louise Titlow and Karen Kircher have given monthly to the South Bay Food Pantry since early 2020. The pantry was all of three months old when Maureen McNair, its founder, told them about it. They knew it was a natural fit with their values.
“We’re all connected,” Louise said. “If one part of our community is hurting, we’re all hurting.” Karen said, “I used to work downtown, and there were a lot of homeless people on the streets around my office building. It broke my heart. My office did a lot lunches for clients, and I’d pack up the leftovers and find someone on the street to give them to. A meal is a way to love somebody.”
She added that she has a sister who has serious health problems, and lives in Illinois. “I can’t help my sister directly, and giving to the Food Pantry feels like a way to do something.”
Two years on, Karen and Louise wanted to do more. In January 2022 they started volunteering with the Diaper Pantry, which is part of the Food Pantry’s operation. Every other week Feeding San Diego delivers a pallet, sometimes two, to the South Bay campus. Louise and Karen offload the boxes of diapers, carry them inside, organize them by size and stack them in the Pantry’s storage space. If they overlap with Pantry volunteers who are bagging non-perishables (rice, dry beans, &tc) for the Saturday distribution, those volunteers help them move boxes, and Karen and Louise help bag. When Louise thanked Sue Marberry for their help, Sue said “This is what we do, we help each other.” Helping each other, the teams are creating community.
When Karen and Louise sent their first monthly check in 2020, the Pantry was providing food each Saturday to 20 to 40 households. They’ve watched that number grow each year. Now most Saturdays 390 to 400 people show up. The Pantry and the South Bay campus are located in one of the poorest census tracts in San Diego County, and the households they serve average 4 people. Every Saturday morning First Church’s Pantry provides food for as many as1600 people to have enough to eat.
Louise feels “It’s a great opportunity to help, and it’s one of the best things we’re doing as a congregation.”
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